Save the Date! Walk to the Hill for Legal Services

Issue Februray 2004

Join your colleagues throughout the commonwealth in advocating for adequate funding for legal services for the indigent. Members of the bar will participate in the annual Walk to the Hill on Wednesday, March 10 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the State House.

The event, which is cosponsored by the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Boston Bar Association, allows attorneys to speak with their legislators about the critical need for legal services for the indigent. By providing legal advice and representation to those who cannot afford to pay for a private attorney, legal aid ensures fairness and efficiency in the administration of justice.

Due to a shortage of legal resources, legal aid programs must turn away a majority of eligible people. In recent years the Massachusetts Bar Association, Boston Bar Association, American Corporate Counsel Association, Massachusetts Judges Conference and many others have joined the call for additional funding for legal aid.

This state's economic crisis forestalls this possibility and therefore the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation is requesting that the state level fund civil legal aid for FY05 - $7,564,142.

The declining economy has reduced other sources of funding for legal aid programs. With the closings and mergers of several major law firms, donations to legal aid programs declined by 7 percent in FY03 and are expected to drop dramatically this year. Grants from private foundations are also down in legal aid. The combination of this loss of private funding and a 16 percent reduction in state funding for FY05 increases the urgency to protect state funding for civil legal aid.

Legal aid is a solid investment that builds strong communities. Families are saved from homelessness, domestic violence victims win custody of their children, elder victims of mortgage scams recoup their losses and absent parents are compelled to pay child support.